Proper nutrition is essential
for good health and long life for every creature. A young
cat is particularly susceptible to nutritional imbalances
and feeding errors, and dietary habits established after weaning
in many ways determine the future health status of a cat.
pet owners must be aware of the unique nutritional requirements
of their cats.
Cats, despite thousands of years
of domestication, remain strictly carnivorous. They are incapable
of digesting and receiving nutrition from the majority of vegetable
proteins. There are no vegetarian cats. Cats
in the wild devour the whole of their prey: muscles, organs,
viscera, bones, offal, skin, etc. In this manner, cats ingest
not only the flesh and organs of their prey but also the partially
and wholly digested vegetable foods the prey had eaten. The
cat then is able to derive nutrition from various vegetable
sources thanks to the prey's digestive processes.
Particularly significant are
the differences in nutritional requirements between dogs and
cats, such as the higher requirement for protein and the greater
tolerance for fat in cats when compared to dogs.
There is no particular food that
all cats like. This is why cat foods are available in a variety
of flavors and textures. Once you find nutritionally complete
and balanced cat food your cat enjoys, stay with it. Frequent
diet changes may create a finicky eater and cause digestive
What does your
As your cat's caretaker, you
have to choose the right kind of food that promotes good health
and helps prevent disease due to nutritional deficiencies.
There are foods specially formulated for kittens, mature or
pregnant cats, but all of them must include some important
nutrients. Pick food that provides all nutrients for your cat,
including: water, proteins (essential amino acids and nitrogen),
essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins.
Cats have evolved to get their
energy from proteins - they contain the building blocks called
amino acids, which help the body rebuild tissue and perform
important functions. The fats provide a good source of concentrated
energy for your pet as well as unsaturated fatty acids, which
are essential. The minerals are important for regulating functions
of the body of the cats. Those are the macrominerals - calcium,
magnesium, phosphorus, and the microminerals – copper,
manganese, iron, iodine. The vitamins are two groups: fat-soluble – vitamins
A, D, E and K, and water-soluble - thiamine, riboflavin, niacin,
pantothenic acid, folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12. Both groups
regulate and promote certain physiological processes in the
Types of cat food
There are many different brands
of cat foods on the market today, but all of them are available
in three types:
Dry food contains about 6-10%
moisture. It is the least expensive and being dry, have the
advantage of an abrasive action, which helps to keep the teeth
and gums clean and healthy. These foods have a long shelf and
bowl life and the food may be left out at all times. Usually,
cat food containing 34 to 38 percent protein and 19 to 22 percent
fat provides a healthy balance.
Soft - Moist Food
Soft - moist food contains about
23 - 40% moisture. Some cat owners are attracted to its convenience
and long shelf life, but it is more expensive than dry food.
Be aware that most soft-moist foods contain an abundance of
preservatives so labels should be read carefully.
Canned food contains about 68
- 70% moisture. Most cats find this type the tastiest, because
it has about 70% water content. The disadvantages of this kind
of foods are the high cost and the odor. Veterinarians don't
recommend giving your pet only canned food because this type
tends to stick more to your cats teeth making it more susceptible
to dental problems later on.
Feed your cat a small, measured
amount of canned food twice a day, and leave her small amounts
of dry food, because most cats are snackers or nibblers
and like to eat dry food throughout the day.
What do you have to observe when you feed your cats
Cats don't need to have food
available all day. Do not feed your cat more than the daily
amount your vet has recommended -- no matter how much she asks.
Break the daily ration down into two or three small meals,
and that's it.
Never feed a cat dog's food.
It simply doesn't have enough protein and essential amino acids
to meet a cat's nutritional needs. Avoid feeding your cat a
vegetarian diet for the same reason.
Make sure not to overfeed your
cat. Obesity contributes to disease and can lead to pre-mature
aging and early death. Ask your veterinarian to help you determine
the ideal body weight for your cat, and adjust your cat's diet
to attain and maintain that weight according to your veterinarian's
You can try to make homemade
food for your cat, but you must know that some foods must be
avoided – do not feed your cat chocolate, alcohol, onions,
pork (including bacon), raw fish, raw eggs or bones. Each of
these has its own ill effects on cats.
Feline fasting can be dangerous,
and can even lead to serious liver problems. If your cat refuses
to eat for more than two days, consult your veterinarian.
Never put your cat's food near
her litter box. In the wild, a cat eliminates far from where
she eats. In your home, she will likely choose to eat her food
from her dish and eliminate elsewhere, far from the litter
Do not give your cat her hairball
remedy around mealtimes. Many hairball remedies and treats
contain mineral oil or petroleum jelly -- both of which will
leach out the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K from the
Reject foods that are made up
solely of "by-product meal" or meat- and bonemeal.
Meal is what is left after a product is cooked at extremely
high temperatures, a procedure called rendering. Rendered products
are cheap and highly processed.
Limit the use of tuna because
of the risks associated with the mercury levels in it.
feeding your cat
Feral cats, (i.e. cats that roam
free in the wild), eat grass almost daily and most domesticated
cats, if given the opportunity, will eat grass and certain
plants. That’s why cat owners can safely encourage
this habit by providing sources of green vegetation.
Milk is a food, not a drink (the
only cat drink is water). This food will provide an excellent
source of calcium and phosphorus needed for strong bones and
teeth as well as many other vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately,
a large percentage of cats lose the ability to digest milk,
as they grow older.
It is not uncommon for cats to
tire of the same food every day. Provide variety in the form
of different flavors and textures. Make changes to a pet's
food gradually by mixing a bit of the new food in with the
old over a course of three to five days.
Feed your cat in a quiet area
of the house, where she is unlikely to be disturbed. Cats feel
vulnerable while they're eating and appreciate the peace and
Cats naturally compete for food,
and are uncomfortable eating in very close proximity to one
another. Give each of your cats their own separate food bowl,
and space them well apart at meal times.
Get your cat some ceramic or
stainless steel bowls. Plastic food and water dishes harbor
bacteria, even after they have been washed. In addition, some
cats develop allergies to plastic and can end up with pimples
on their chin.
An older cat will really appreciate
it if you raise her food and water dishes off the floor a few
inches. Many pet supply stores sell low racks for pet dishes.
They make things much easier on your cat's neck and back.
Observe your pet after you introduce
new foods. A change in coat, scratching, appetite, weight,
mood, stools or other areas could suggest a problem. Consult
your veterinarian for dietary recommendations.
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